My day with the talented embroidery ladies of the Ibaba co-operative

I didn’t know how much free time I would have in Rwanda before I got here, so I thought I better find myself a hobby. This was long due since one of the reasons I needed a sabbatical was the realisation that I hadn’t had a hobby since I started working at EY (and I thought that was a very sad position to be in!).

I decided my hobby should be traditional Estonian embroidery (since I am rock’n’roll like that…) and I was so happy to find an embroidery co-operative here in Rwanda, bursting with amazing talent!

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Thanks to VAYANDO I had the pleasure of spending a day with the Ibaba ladies – an embroidery co-operative that has been going since the 70s. The ladies patiently helped me and my friends through some simple designs, whilst practicing their English and having a good giggle. Imagine a fun conversation involving ‘What is your name?’ *giggles* ‘Sandra’ *giggles* ‘Where are you from?’ *giggles* ‘Estonia’ *giggles* ‘What do you do?’ *giggles* ‘Volunteer’ ‘OOOOOH’ *giggles*. It was perfect!

So what does it take to ‘master’ embroidery in 2 hours?

  1. Choose your design

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2. Choose your colours

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3. Get cracking

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4. And keep on going

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5. And going

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6. With your patient teacher sweating next to you as you consistently take too long of a stitch…

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7. And voila… with our fingers hurting from the needle but our little geeky hearts full of joy, we ended up with great goodie bags that had a hand made design on them.

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I want to say it was 100% made by us… but honestly, the ladies did about 70% as they are true perfectionists and very proud of their trade (plus, we’d probably still be there, embroidering away…)

Thank you Ibaba ladies, you are absolutely brilliant!

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